You might think of them as angels or cherubs, but the chubby little winged boys which became popular in renaissance painting are also known as putti, and they have their roots in classical antiquity. Since their revival in the 15th century as secular rather than religious figures, they have often taken on the role of illustrating science and scientific principles. By turns reverent and cheeky, they even make their way into a safe sex poster of the 1980s.
About the author
Danny is Wellcome Collection's Digital Content Manager.
Try these next
Find out what happens in the rest of Vesalius’ anatomy-themed putto initials in this digitised book.
Read an article about how children’s bodies were used to illustrate a specific medical theme: anti-burns safety campaigns.
Visit the Reading Room to explore secular and religious approaches to health.